RAIL passengers in Wales are being warned they could still face disruption on Saturday despite the cancellation of a series of planned strikes.
The RMT union said on Friday afternoon that three days of industrial action by thousands of its members at Network Rail, which were due to take place on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday on routes across the country, would no longer take place.
The union said it had secured unconditional talks with Network Rail and the promise of a wage offer from the rail operating companies.
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch told Herald.Wales: “The threat of strike action and our strongly supported industrial campaign have given rail employers meaning. We have always wanted to achieve a negotiated settlement and that is what we will continue to do in this next phase of intensive talks.
“Our priority is our members, and we are working to reach an agreement on job security, a decent wage increase and good working conditions. Our new vote remains live and if we have to go on strike in the next six months to get a deal, we will. »
Tim Shoveller, Network Rail’s chief negotiator, welcomed the announcement but said it had come too late to restore services on Saturday and they would remain “extremely limited”.
Special strike schedules will largely remain in place for Monday, but operators are hoping services will return to normal after that.
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group said: “It is positive that the RMT leaders have pulled back from the abyss and called off their strike action. Our advice remains to please check before traveling and on Saturdays and Mondays to only travel by train if necessary.
“We remain engaged in intensive negotiations to agree the necessary reforms to improve reliability, offer a pay rise to our employees and put the industry back on a sustainable financial footing.”
Merseyrail said its services would be partially restored on Saturday following the cancellation of the strike.
Rugby fans traveling to Cardiff for the Wales v New Zealand match will be among those affected by Saturday’s disruption.
The RMT said Network Rail initially declared discussions and consultations closed and intended to impose maintenance changes without agreement with the union.
“They have now backed down and will continue discussions on the basis that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed,'” he said. that the talks can continue without preconditions set unilaterally by the company.”
Transport Secretary Mark Harper said: ‘This is a positive development for passengers across the country, but the very late notice means, unfortunately, there will still be significant disruption to the network tomorrow and until Monday.
“We encourage unions and employers to continue their negotiations, and the cancellation of these strikes has given these talks a better chance of success. It is vital for passengers and workers alike that all parties continue to work together and deliver a modern railway that we can all be proud of.
The TSSA has announced that it is calling off its rail strikes scheduled for November 5, 7, 8 and 9 after receiving an invitation for “intensive talks” from the Rail Delivery Group.
TSSA members were due to strike at five different rail companies on different days during the period.
Its acting general secretary, Frank Ward, said: “We have always said that strikes are a last resort, and we are happy to finally be invited to the first round of formal talks with rail operators in months. However, it is ridiculous that the invitation only went out less than six hours before the start of our strikes.
“This will cause disruption to train travel throughout the weekend as train companies will not have time to restore canceled services. This would have been completely avoidable if the Rail Delivery Group and their paymasters at the Department for Transport and Transport Secretary Mark Harper had invited us to talks earlier.